It’s the last Wednesday before the All-Star break, and we have a great slate of games to work with tonight on FanDuel. We also have some important injury news to deal with, as Tobias Harris has already been ruled out, Carmelo Anthony is doubtful, and, as of this writing, Anthony Davis is questionable. In addition, Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler likely won’t play for the Mavericks, and Blake Griffin is still out for the Clippers.
In daily fantasy NBA, when there are injuries to players as important to their teams as these players are, it’s important to understand which players will get extra minutes, which of those players will actually be productive with those minutes, and also which established players will see a bump in value due to extra responsibilities on the court.
I will do my best to offer up the players I think are in the best position to thrive today due to both an injured teammate and favorable matchup, while also giving you some players whose roles have recently changed. Today is a great day for multiple lineups. There are many ways to go about the lineup-building process today, and the key is figuring out positions to spend at, and which to save at.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $400,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday's NBA games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $50,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Wednesday. Here's the FanDuel link.
Good luck tonight, and let’s get to the picks.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, $10,000 – If you’re paying up for one player not named James Harden, it should be CP3. With Blake Griffin off the court, Paul’s usage and assist rate skyrocket, and he should thrive in an up-tempo, close, high-scoring affair with the Houston Rockets. He’s not a player I ever target when the Clippers are at full health, but the absence of Blake Griffin changes the entire look of that team.
While players like J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and, yes, even Spencer Hawes all benefit from Griffin’s absence, the true beneficiary is Paul. He always has the ball in his hands, and if he’s not looking to score himself, he’s likely going to be assisting on someone else’s field goal. I think he’s a lock for 40-45 FanDuel points tonight, with upside well over 50. He’s expensive, but with so much value available, you should have no trouble fitting him in.
Langston Galloway, New York Knicks, $5,300 – Galloway was the hottest name in daily fantasy for about a week, but now nobody talks about him. He’s still offering solid production for his price, and with Carmelo Anthony expected to miss tonight’s game, he’s going to be in a very favorable situation tonight. The Knicks travel to Orlando to face a Magic team that is playing at an extremely fast pace, while also playing atrocious defense. They’re very similar to last year’s Sixers, and targeting them with players who should see a bump in value due to the absence of a high usage player (Carmelo Anthony) is a smart strategy. Galloway is often around 25 fantasy points, and I’m expecting something closer to 30 in this matchup with Anthony out of the lineup.
James Harden, Houston Rockets, $11,200 – If you’re fading Harden today, I suggest not tuning in for Clippers-Rockets. It’s not much fun watching Harden rack up fantasy points and knowing that a bunch of lineups are passing you in the process. Harden is still underpriced, even here, as he is the best player in daily fantasy (and possibly the NBA), and it’s not even remotely close. The only equivalent is Russell Westbrook when Kevin Durant is inactive.
Harden routinely posts 50-60 fantasy point games, and is capable of reaching 70 on almost any night. He’s completely matchup-proof, and should be targeted heavily whenever he’s involved in a game that is expected to be very close and high-scoring, much like tonight’s matchup with the Clippers. Find value at other positions, and force Harden into your lineups. He’s the number one play of the day, and will likely be the top scorer when the night is over.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks, $6,800 – Giannis’ production over the last five games has been staggering. He’s given a return of over 5 points per $1000 of salary each game while topping out at about 50 fantasy points in one contest. Tonight he draws a home matchup with a bad Kings team that is atrocious on the defensive end of the floor. He’s doing everything right now, recently flirting with a triple-double. He’s one of those players that you simply have to target given how underpriced he is, especially in a favorable matchup.
Additional Plays: Tyreke Evans (if Davis is out), Eric Gordon (if Davis is out), DeMar DeRozan, Evan Fournier (GPP Only, should see 30+ minutes with Harris out)
James Johnson, Toronto Raptors, $4,000 – Dwayne Casey apparently woke up and finally realized that his team needs Johnson’s defensive presence on the court. He started last game and played 30 minutes. The previous game he came in after several DNP-CDs and changed the course of the game against the Spurs, resulting in a win. I see no reason to think anything changes tonight. Johnson should start and play at least 30 minutes tonight against Washington. Johnson does everything on the court, and he has extremely high upside relative to his near-minimum salary. He’s a core play for me tonight, and he offers the cap relief necessary to roster plays like Harden and CP3.
Chandler Parsons, Dallas Mavericks, $6,600 – With Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler likely sidelined, a lot responsibility is going to fall on Parsons’ shoulders. With Rondo out, he transforms into a usable daily fantasy option, and with two other starters out, he should make for an excellent play tonight against a bad Utah Jazz defense. I see nothing less than 30 fantasy points for Parsons tonight, with upside near 40. He and Johnson are core plays, and will be in several of my FanDuel lineups tonight.
Additional Plays: Gordon Hayward, Trevor Ariza, LeBron James, Khris Middleton, Matt Barnes
Josh Smith, Houston Rockets, $6,100 – I see no reason not to continue targeting Smith in both cash games and GPPs. He’s consistently putting up right around 30 fantasy points, with upside to about 35. At his price, that’s a fantastic return on your investment. Tonight’s matchup between the Rockets and Clippers is expected to be the highest scoring game of the night, and, like Phoenix and Houston last night, it’s the game you want to be targeting as much as possible. Smith doesn’t start, but he’s playing around 30 minutes off the bench, and in the absence of Dwight Howard, he’s been a solid option. Smith is the type of player that really benefits from an up-tempo game because he contributes in every meaningful category. The absence of Blake Griffin certainly won’t hurt either.
Charlie Villanueva, Dallas Mavericks, $3,900 – I don’t think I can quite trust Charlie V in cash games, but he’s a fine GPP play tonight. With the Mavericks dealing with all kinds of injuries, Villanueva should see 20 or more minutes tonight. He’s been lighting it up from three point range when given the opportunity, and he should match up well with a Jazz team that is near the bottom of the league in terms of three point field goal percentage allowed.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers, $8,600 – Most of the daily fantasy community, myself included, overlooked the potential impact of Blake Griffin’s absence on DeAndre Jordan. Instead, we focused on value play Spencer Hawes, who fell victim to a Tyson Chandler injury that resulted in both the Clippers and Mavericks running small lineups for most of the game. While not a high usage player by any means, Jordan sees a bump in both usage and rebounding rate with Blake Griffin off the court. Factor in a very good matchup against an under-sized Rockets frontcourt that will be without the services of Dwight Howard, and you have yourself an elite center play with extremely high upside relative to his price.
Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat, $7,700 – White returned from injury last game, but was the victim of foul trouble and was limited to only 19 minutes. He still posted 20.8 FanDuel points, so his ankle injury clearly isn’t having any effect on his per-minute fantasy production. He draws a very good matchup against a weak Cavs interior, and as long as he can stay on the court, he should post elite numbers again tonight. For me, I’d rather pay up for Jordan in cash games. I think the risk of foul trouble for Whiteside is too great against the Cavs. It’s also very possible the Heat get blown out. However, his ridiculous upside puts him in play in GPPs every night the Heat are playing.